Be Genuine in College Essays

“I’m never alone in my own room.”

When we read this opening line from a recently submitted essay, we wanted to know more; we were curious. By the end of the story, we were smiling because the story made us happy.

The teen who wrote the moving essay has 10 instruments in his room, and he plays each to unwind. He focused on one moment:  He went into his room and sat at “my faded denim desk chair to begin my daily therapy.” Using vivid details, he showed why a college admissions committee should care about his experience.

In his story about playing the piano, we could tell he is smart, studies hard and knows what he needs to do to relax. We learned he is balanced. This A student with exceptional ACT and AP scores is a lot more than just a smart kid who studies hard. He is ready for college and has tools to survive emotionally.

His story was written in his voice  using his words. It was  the voice of a creative, articulate 17-year-old student. What’s more, it was genuine, which is exactly what college admissions committees want.

They want to know something unique about you that is not obvious from a transcript, test score or resume. They want to know you, and  they want to like you. So use your essay to make them like you. Tell them what drives you and what excites you.

Before you begin to write, jot down the Wow mantra (Your Story. Your Voice. Your Words.) on a piece of paper; tape it somewhere close to the place where you write. Next, ask yourself, “What do I want the college to know about me after reading my story?”.

If you need help, we still have a few spaces in the Wow them With Your College Essay workshop on Tuesday, Aug. 21, from 10 till noon at Andover High School. You can also sign up for a one-on-one brainstorming chat via phone or video chat, or hire a Wow writing coach for private coaching or for an essay review.